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Morphological and Performance Measures of Polyurethane Foams Using X-Ray CT and Mechanical Testing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2014

Brian M. Patterson*
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Kevin Henderson
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Robert D. Gilbertson
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Stephanie Tornga
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Nikolaus L. Cordes
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Manuel E. Chavez
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
Zachary Smith
Affiliation:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Polymers and Coating Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, P.O. Box 1663, MS E549, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
*
* Corresponding author. bpatterson@lanl.gov

Abstract

Meso-scale structure in polymeric foams determines the mechanical properties of the material. Density variations, even more than variations in the anisotropic void structure, can greatly vary the compressive and tensile response of the material. With their diverse use as both a structural material and space filler, polyurethane (PU) foams are widely studied. In this manuscript, quantitative measures of the density and anisotropic structure are provided by using micro X-ray computed tomography (microCT) to better understand the results of mechanical testing. MicroCT illustrates the variation in the density, cell morphology, size, shape, and orientation in different regions in blown foam due to the velocity profile near the casting surface. “Interrupted” in situ imaging of the material during compression of these sub-regions indicates the pathways of the structural response to the mechanical load and the changes in cell morphology as a result. It is found that molded PU foam has a 6 mm thick “skin” of higher density and highly eccentric morphological structure that leads to wide variations in mechanical performance depending upon sampling location. This comparison is necessary to understand the mechanical performance of the anisotropic structure.

Type
Materials Applications
Copyright
© Microscopy Society of America 2014 

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